Life & Opinions

Inspired by critical theory and the unpredictable, by reading to play and writing to find out what the hell we really mean, many of the posts on this site were created with teachers of college-level literature, writing, and the humanities in mind.

Categories on this site and what falls into them, approximately:

  • Litspeak – Evolving encyclopedia-style entries regarding literature, literary criticism, cultural studies of texts, rhetoric, weird fiction, semiurgy, and the role of the reader and writer. Most of these were written for undergraduate literature and composition classes at Brooklyn College. Differentiated from other encyclopedias of thoughts on literature as per Deepspeak, above
  • Teachspeak – Short articles on teaching college-level English. Many of these will simply consist of assignments (essay prompts) that I have given at Brooklyn College
  • Weirdspeak – Thoughts about weird fiction, Lovecraftian/cosmic horror, pulp, and other verboten pseudo-genres. Thoughts on genre in general
  • Writespeak – Writing advice, particularly regarding fiction

Three quotations worth considering:

Ye old-timey writing-advice, my emphasis:

For the separation of the thoughts from words is a separation of soul from body, something that cannot be done in either instance without destruction. Therefore what chiefly matters and is needful for the Courtier in order that he may speak and write well is, I think, knowledge, because one who knows nothing and who does not have anything in his mind that merits being understood is powerless to say or write anything.

—Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier

Regarding erasure/staying silent:

Or perhaps it’s simpler than that, perhaps it’s just that there is never a way of erasing what’s been said, true or false, once it’s been said: accusations and inventions, slanders and stories and fabrications, disavowal is not enough, it doesn’t erase but adds; once an event has been recounted there will be a thousand contradictory and impossible versions long, long before the event is annihilated; denials and discrepancies coexist with what they refute or deny, they accumulate, add up, they never cancel anything out but only end up sanctioning it for as long as people go on talking, the only way to erase is to say nothing, and go on saying nothing for a very long time.

—Javier Marías, Bad Nature

Thoughts on the book’s exteriority/interiority, emphasis mine:

History has never comprehended nomadism, the book has never comprehended the outside. The State as model for the book and for thought has a long history: logos, the philosopher-king, the transcendence of the Idea, the interiority of the concept, the republic of minds, the court of reason, the functionaries of thought, man as legislator and subject. The State’s pretension to be a world order, and to root man.

In short, we think that one cannot write sufficiently in the name of an outside. The outside has no image, no signification, no subjectivity. The book as assemblage with the outside, against the book as image of the world.

—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

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